Construction is now complete on the much-anticipated restaurant taking over the former Country Cat location. This past weekend, Lazy Susan staff officially started dinner service, representing the diner’s official opening.
Kayla Morrell, of Lazy Susan, described the opening weekend as successful. “We’ve seen a fair amount of turnout for our first weekend of full-service dining, and hope that continues as word gets out in the neighborhood.”
Dinner service is available from 4 PM to 9 PM, Friday through Sunday. They expect to add Thursday dinner in the near future, as business ramps up. Lazy Susan will also begin opening for brunch on Sundays and Mondays. However, the exact time and date for brunch service are yet to be determined.
Lazy Susan’s dining area and bar are ready to accept customers, having been carefully worked on for months. However, indoor seating will remain closed. “While the situation with COVID continues, we plan to remain in a takeout and outdoor-dining only format.” Said Morrell.
The restaurant’s interior expresses both cozy and open feelings. Woodwork surrounds the interior on all surfaces and creates compartments within the space. However, the areas’ division is represented on the outer edges, making the core of the room open and expansive. Wood dominates all corners of Lazy Susan, but the variety of stains and finishes prevent it from feeling excessive. Recessed lighting and ornamental light-fixtures illuminate all the compartments, further creating defined space without walls. The contoured paneling of the ceiling and wood floors will reduce sound reflection, creating a comfortable volume, once the room is packed full of people. For now, customers will have to view the detailed woodwork and creative lighting through the windows.
The kitchen is updated to support the charcoal centric menu. Some eliminate are a holdover from the Country Cat. Two under-counter refrigerators and the six-burner range are original. The custom charcoal grill is all new and sits center stage in the open kitchen. Future customers will be able to sit kitchen-side to watch the seasonal creations sizzling.
Lazy Susan occupies the corner shopfront in the historic Dickson Drugs building, located at 7937 SE Stark Street. The second weekend of dinner service starts tonight at 4 PM.
Renowned Portland firm, Osmose Design, created Lazy Susan’s distinctive look.
Along SE 80th, a large grill cooks sizzling meat. Staff at Lazy Susan have not yet settled on an official opening date, however they have started curbside service for Montavilla locals.
Lazy Susan is located at 7937 SE Stark on the corner of SE 80th Ave and Stark Street. They had intended to open months prior, but delayed due to COVID-19. They are still putting the finishing touches on the interior of the restaurant but that will not stop them from cooking. “We are serving barbecue to the neighborhood curbside, and offering awesome beverages like sangria slushies and piña colada snow cones.” Wrote Kayla Morrell of Lazy Susan PDX.
Lazy Susan has taken curbside service to an extreme, cooking and selling the food from the sidewalk. Orders for food and drinks are placed at the front door on SE Stark Street. Around the corner the food is prepped and grilled. They offer waiting chairs along the front of the building, spaced apart for safety.
Lazy Susan staff have successfully brought a mini version of their restaurant, to the sidewalk. Plates are priced at $15, with your choice of meat. A crescent roll and potato salad are included. They are open 12 to 4 PM.
A development in Montavilla, could add 11 new Single Room Occupancy units to NE Glisan. This would be Guerrilla Development’s second project in the area. They are wrapping up construction on their first building named Rocket Empire Machine. The new two story building is called Jolene’s Second Cousin and is adjacent to Rocket Empire Machine, at 6935 NE Glisan Street. The property, that both projects currently share, will be split before construction begins.
Building permits for Jolene’s Second Cousin have already been approved. Guerrilla Development has lined up the same contractors that worked on Rocket Empire Machine, to start work on this new building. However, “the project is on hold due to uncertainty around Covid-19.” Said Anna Mackay, Director of Development at Guerrilla Development. The delay could be short, with construction starting in Summer or Fall. Unfortunately, the delay could be longer and no timetable has been decided.
Portland once had a healthy inventory of Single Room Occupancy (SRO) apartments. They served reduced income residents and kept many people in housing, that otherwise would have lived on the streets. Over the last fifty years, that inventory of affordable rental options has been in decline.
Single Room Occupancy housing is structured similarly to a dormitory. Each resident has a furnished one room apartments. Tenants share a common kitchen, shower, and toilet. Some variation on SRO layouts could have a toilet, sink, or mini-fridge in the room.
This type of affordable housing may soon be in high demand, due to the fallout from our statewide shutdown. Six months after the Eviction Moratorium order ends, people are expected to pay their back rent. That could start a wave of evictions for those that do not have savings to cover the unpaid rent.
Before our current economic troubles, Portland had identified SRO housing as a way to keep people housed as rental rates climb. However the number of SRO apartments in Portland has not yet satisfied the pre-pandemic housing needs. Six months from now we may have less SRO options, not more. The Westwind Apartments project, downtown, is a seven story building offering 72 SRO units and 28 studio apartments. All units will support low income residents or people transitioning off the streets. It is replacing a three story building that currently offers affordable housing. When completed, this project should help many Potlanders gain access to housing. However, when the building is demolished to make way for its replacement, there will be even less affordable units to rent in Portland.
There is a an established need for projects like Jolene’s Second Cousin, and we need them built in the next six months, to meet the predicted demand. We also need more of them, spread throughout the city. Jolene’s Second Cousin picked an ideal scale for the project, insuring it fits in the neighborhood without dominating the area. Large towers like the Westwind Apartments do not always work out well for the residents. Historically, housing many low income people together has not been successful for other cities. Low income housing, mixed within the community, has worked well in the past and could do so again.
Montavilla once had SRO housing right in the center of town. In an interview of Dianne Dixon-Lawrence, she talks about the history of Dickson Drugs and the SRO units on the second floor. Dickson Drugs was located on the corner of 80th and SE Stark. The same space that once housed the Country Cat and will soon be the home of Lazy Susan restaurant. In the interview, she tells the story of the 1961 remodel that ultimately removed the SRO units. Those SRO units had occupied all of the second floor above Dickson Drugs. She said that in the 1960’s, the city had begun to require parking for each apartment. That change made it difficult to creat low cost housing in many places, and impossible for the space above Dickson Drugs. Dixon-Lawrence went on to say that the city later reversed that decision but by then, it no longer was cost effective to add the SRO units back.
It would be helpful to Portland, and Montavilla, if Jolene’s Second Cousin can start construction soon. The housing will be desperately needed and perhaps that can help alleviate some of the uncertainty around building it. However, 11 SRO units are not enough. We will need more, and a community that will be accepting of SRO housing near them. Any hesitation for allowing low income housing in the area, needs to be balance by the notion that people are not going away. A person can live in an SRO next to our house or on the street in front of our house, but they are going to be our neighbor, one way or another. Let’s encourage attainable housing for all of our neighbors.
It has almost been a month of empty streets and closed shops. Even if you are safe and secure during this time, you are looking around at the businesses in the neighborhood and hoping they will survive. There are some programs to help these small businesses but not enough, and certainly they are not timely in providing the help needed. Those programs are for established businesses trying to make it through the forced closures. However, they do not cover establishments that have not opened their doors for the first time. We have many businesses in Montavilla that are mid construction.
The Oregonian has an article detailing the struggle of four restaurants and bars that had all been scheduled to open in Montavilla town. In the article, the owners of White Rabbit, Tinker Tavern, Lazy Susan, and Sebastiano’s all lend their voice to the story of uncertainty around us. No business in Montavilla is immune to the financial hardships being felt right now but the ones that have yet to see their first customer, are proving to be the most vulnerable.
All is not lost for these future landmarks of Montavilla. Some should be able to postpone plans. Others are adjusting the business to fit what is practical right now. Andrew Mace, of Lazy Susan, is quoted in The Oregonian article as being thankful they did not hire staff yet.
Unlike other shops with staff, payroll and unemployment is one burden the new locations in Montavilla are not contending with. There are many established businesses in our area that need cash flow to keep some of their staff employed.
Brian Stafki put together a Google Sheet of Montavilla, and other nearby businesses, that are open or offering services in an alternative form. If you can continue to give them business, please do.
The Montavilla East Tabor Business Association has created a COVID-19 Info and Resources page that has some additional information about its members, during this prolonged shutdown.
UPDATE – Portland Monthly has written an article about the Lazy Susan taking over the Country Cat location. The article includes the below image showing a rendering of the interior.
The mozaic cat that once marked the Montavilla icon, Country Cat, has been chipped away. The Country Cat closed last August without much explanation. It has sat empty with paper covering the windows all of this Winter. However, over the last month there has been increased activity inside as the tenants ready the space for something new. Once again Eater Portland has the answers to what we will soon see inplace of the Country Cat. Lazy Susan will open soon with and “all-star cast of front-and-back-of-house talent.” Read the Eater Portland article for a detailed description of what’s to come. From the sounds of it, we could have another nationally know destination restaurant taking the space of Montavilla’s last one.
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